YOU CARRIED ME
A Daughter’s Memoir
Plough Publishing House, 2017
179 pages, $19.99 (hardcopy)
To order: amazon.com
Beginning Aug. 24, 1977, for five consecutive days, medics in a hospital in Iowa tried to kill Melissa Ohden.
But she was not born yet. She was 31 weeks into gestation when a doctor drained the amniotic fluid from her mother’s uterus and replaced it with saline solution. Within 48 hours he calculated the caustic fluid would burn her skin, incinerate her lungs and eventually cause her heart to stop. Dead, her corpse would miscarry onto the delivery table and be trashed as an abortion statistic.
But the procedure failed. Still within her mother’s womb after two days, a Pitocin drip was introduced to induce labor, and Melissa was delivered five days later. Suffering acute respiratory distress and weighing a mere 2 pounds 14.5 ounces, she still managed “a spontaneous weak cry.” Hearing the plaintiff plea, rather than abandoning her to die, a compassionate nurse nearby rushed her to the neonatal intensive care unit, where she was treated for severe medical complications. Two months later, she was welcomed into the loving arms of her adoptive parents and carried back to their home in Iowa.
The full details of Ohden’s abortion survival story are now chronicled in her new book You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir. The author is a wife and the mother of two children. She is also the founder of Abortion Survivors Network.
At age 14, after learning the devastating truth of her abortion survival, she embarked on a complex 30-year journey to recover her sense of self-worth and to find the answers to her agonizing questions, including: “Where did I come from? Whose blood runs through my veins?” and “Why did you try to kill me?” En route, she established and re-established relationships, became a speaker for the pro-life movement, and discovered a new mission. As she defines it, “To be a voice not for myself, but for others.”
Ohden speaks with authority, merited by many courageous battles described in the book. She is a voice for those wounded by abortion. She is a voice for abortion survivors attacked or silenced by abortion advocates unable to reconcile their support for the murderous procedure with the existence of living survivors. She is a voice of forgiveness for the sorrowful who regret their abortions or their complicity in abortions. And she is a voice for the unborn who have no voice. As one mother told her, recalling how, as a pregnant teenager, Ohden’s voice had pierced her conscience while she sat, tearful, listening to her testimony, “I want you to know that you saved a life. You were a voice for my little girl when she didn’t have one.”
In the book, Ohden verifies her word with photocopies of original medical records she obtained from the day of her birth. Just one among many seemingly miraculous finds along her journey, not only did they finally reveal for Ohden the names of her birth parents (per author’s note, names “blacked out” to protect their identities), but they also provided corroborative evidence against those who called her a liar. As documented: “On August 24, saline infusion for an abortion was done but unsuccessful.”
In the end, Ohden’s story reveals joy, offers hope and inspires prayer. As she says, “God protected me to be a voice for the voiceless — and their mothers.” From her first “spontaneous weak cry” until now, Ohden continues her mission.
Jennifer Sokol writes from Shoreline, Washington.